Discover sima, a naturally fizzy Finnish fermented lemonade!
Sima is a fermented lemon beverage. It is traditionally prepared to celebrate the arrival of spring in Finland during May 1st festivities (Vappu). But don’t worry: sima is tasty all year round!
Yeast naturally creates bubbles in lemonade. After a few hours in the bottle, sima becomes effervescent!
Note: yeast activity also creates a small amount of alcohol, but we’re talking about 1% alcohol or less. You have been warned!
Sima is a basic beverage that requires only a few ingredients. They may already be in your kitchen!
Water is the most important ingredient in sima in terms of volume. The quality of the water will influence the quality of the sima. It doesn’t matter if there is chlorine in your water, as it will evaporate.
See our guide “Which Is the Best Water for Fermenting” for more details.
In Finland, ” flour sugar ” (fariinisokeri) is used to prepare sima. This sugar is like brown sugar. It has a stronger taste than white sugar.
To imitate this Finnish sugar, we use a mixture of white and brown sugar (a mixture of sugar and molasses) in this recipe.
If you want a more delicate lemonade, replace the brown sugar with white sugar or honey.
Choose organic lemons or wash them well before using them. You can use lemons, limes, or any citrus fruit.
The best yeast to use for sima is champagne yeast. However, you can use dry yeast, or baker’s yeast. The taste will change depending on the yeast used. Sima is generally fermented without whey, but you could also use it.
Dried raisins are added directly to the bottles. During fermentation, they will inflate with CO2 and rise to the surface. They indicate when the sima is ready! Don’t worry if you don’t have dried raisins; they are optional.
Steps for Making Sima
Making sima takes about 15 minutes, plus a few hours of waiting. The preparation of sima can be summarised in three steps.
1. Preparing the Mixture
The water, sugar, and lemon are heated. Once the mixture has cooled, the yeast is added.
2. First Fermentation
The beverage ferments at room temperature for 24 hours.
3. Fermentation in the Bottle
Sima is filtered and then put into pressure resistant bottles. One or two dried raisins are added to each bottle. The bottles are left at room temperature for a few hours, or until the taste and fizz are adequate. Be aware! The bottles must be watched carefully, as they can become very fizzy (details in the recipe below)!
Sima Recipe (Fermented Lemonade)
- 1 zester or peeler
- 1 Knife
- 1 Saucepan
- 1 Funnel
- 4 lemons
- ¾ cup white sugar
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 11 cups water
- ⅛ tsp champagne yeast
- 10 dried raisins
Prepare the Wort
- Bring 6 cups (1.5 L) of water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, wash lemons and remove zest with a peeler or zester.
- With a knife, remove the white peel (albedo) and slice the lemon. Remove the seeds roughly.
- Discard the white peel and seeds in the compost, as these would make the beverage bitter.
- When the water is boiling, remove it from the heat source and add the sugar, brown sugar, zest, and lemon slices. Stir well to dissolve the sugar and allow it to cool.
- Once the mixture is warm, transfer all of it into the jar.
- Pour cold water into the jar until you have 12 cups of beverage.
- In a small bowl, rehydrate the yeast in about ¼ cup (60 ml) of warm water. Let it stand for 5 minutes, then add to the jar.
- Cover the jar with a cotton cloth and secure it with the rubber band.
- Let the sima ferment for 24 hours at room temperature.
Fermentation in Bottles
- Using a sieve, or a filter bag, strain the sima to remove the zest and flesh of the lemons.
- Add 2 raisins to each bottle (optional).
- Fill the bottles with sima up to 2 inches from the rim. Close the bottles tightly.
- Let the bottles ferment at room temperature for 12 hours.
- After 12 hours, test the pressure of the beverage by quickly opening and closing the bottles. If it is not fizzy enough, let it ferment longer.
- When the raisins have risen to the surface and there are enough bubbles to your liking, put the bottles in the fridge.
Drink sima to celebrate spring on the occasion of Finnish Vappu, or simply by the pool to enjoy the summer.
Sima can also replace carbonated beverages at picnics or lemonade in cocktails.